Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 1 (Dubai) - Another trip begins

It felt nice to be back here alone after a couple of years. I initially thought that there were so many people waiting to take a flight but then realized that it was all due to the amount of renovation happening in Chennai airport. Everyone other than the travelers were crowded around the entrance for international departures. With my school back pack, one suitcase and trolley I navigated through the crowd in search of a luggage trolley. I wheeled the trolley through the main gate security who inspected my ticket and passport. Earlier people could buy airport entry tickets and enter this area to bid adieu to passengers, but with the renovation in progress only passengers were permitted inside. Next was checkin baggage. After viewing my suitcase and trolley through an xray machine, the staff wrapped an Air-India tape around both luggage to indicate that security check was complete. To open the luggage you would need to cut the tape and then go through the security scan again. I went to the airline counter to drop my luggage and collect my boarding pass. Checkin luggage weighed only 20kgs; 10 kgs short of the allowed limit though I thought it might be closer to 25 when I checked at home.
Next up was crossing the immigration area - there were 6 immigration counters with 2 queues; I was led to the queue on the right. It was fun watching people of all ages and nationalities waiting in queue - cute little children and elderly people patiently awaiting their turn. Westerners mostly wore casuals and shorts while our folks were dressed in more formal attire. The officials were quite friendly. I realized the importance of being a diplomat - anyone with a diplomat passport would be given first preference at the counter; no queues for them. Unfortunately there was one lady diplomat who was misled into waiting in the queue and the official in my counter was feeling bad about it; "If only they had put a notice mentioning this...", he commented. After the immigration area I went up to the security clearance area where passengers are screened and cabin baggage is checked using an xray. On my way here, there was a duty free shop where team India's blue Sahara t-shirt was quite a hit among foreigners. I saw a family pick up a few of them.

After crossing the security clearance, I had more than 2 hours in hand; I slowly loitered wasting as much time as possible in the few shops in the area. But the shops were quite small and I couldn't stay for more than a few minutes in each of them. I learnt that Tamil magazines sold like hot cakes; none of the shops had any stock left! Pangs of hunger struck again but the prices were very high - Rs.60 for a samosa, Rs.20 for a small Lay's packet, Rs.100 for a veggie sandwich! Wow - must be because of airport tax! I slumped in one of the many sofas that were kept outside the departure terminals and began reading "the three musketeers" novel. Being well past midnight, I found it hard to read more than a couple of pages. "Stay awake, stay awake”. I tried to keep myself awake by watching other passengers and airline staff. As the departure time neared for other flights, pretty airline staff went around the seating area in search of passengers who hadn't yet boarded their flight. “Excuse me Maam, are you on Jet airways flight”. I guess they approached the seated passengers based on the tag on the hand baggage. During checkin, each airline provided tags to be fastened on the hand baggage - perhaps it was for this purpose. Maybe if I slept they would wake me up for the flight - or maybe they would not disturb me!


I kept walking around to stay awake, then bought a Lays packet and by the time I finished the packet I dozed off on the sofa for a couple of minutes. And again I walked around to the other end of the waiting area, watching other passengers board their flights. The public announcement system, which was used frequently by the airline staff, was unguarded with instructions on steps to use. “This is the final call for Lufathansa flight. Please board at gate number...”

Time just seemed to have come to a standstill! I went in and out of sleep a couple of times before someone announced, “First class passengers can board the flight to Dubai at Gate number...”. The crowd sensed that the gate was about to open even before the announcement was made because a huge queue had already formed in front of the gate. But there was no use; only first class and business class passengers were permitted to enter. Then they announced for economy class passengers from rows 41 to 46. I had to fight my way through the queue which had converted into a small crowd. I wonder why people lack patience when it comes to standing in a queue or in traffic. People see others behave in this fashion, fighting for a place as if it were a prized possession and they also enter the fray. I wish they would show the same amount of impatience elsewhere.

9 comments:

mindlesspablum said...

You felt nice for being in an airport after a couple of years?

LoL!!!!

Gunjan said...

Just an interesting back cover... looking forward for a whole experience.

sstutor said...

Yes mindlesspabs; it felt nice to be back at the airport :-)

Subrahmanyam said...

I felt the same when catching my fligt...

Sini said...

hey..nice start..waiting for the remaining parts..you went there alone? ;)

crossblade said...

waiting to read the rest ! :)

sstutor said...

Yup Sini; went all alone :-((

sujiganesh said...

u went all alone or u wanted 2 go all alone:P:P

sstutor said...

hehe; could be either!